By Dr. Kristin Heins
I came across an article on the Mayo Clinic website (www.mayoclinic.org) on stress management around the holidays and really liked it. It may be especially helpful during the hectic and emotion-filled holiday season; but, is also a useful life approach to stress management. Most of us know that stress and feeling overwhelmed does not limit itself to holidays!! When stress is at it’s peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. The feeling is often one of overwhelm vs. support. Below are ten ways to try and shift the balance back to a more supportive experience:
1. Acknowledge your feelings: If historical or present day loss and sadness exist, accept that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings.
2. Reach out: If you feel lonely or isolated – seek out community, faith-based or other social events as they can offer support and companionship. Volunteering may also lift your spirits and broaden friendships.
3. Be realistic: The holidays may not (likely won’t) be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if adult-children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails, videos, skyping.
4. Set aside differences: Set aside familial grievances during gatherings until a more appropriate time for discussion. Try and find understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry – chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress just like you may be.
5. Stick to a budget: Before you shop, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Ways to manage budgets:
- Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
- Give homemade gifts.
- Start a family gift exchange
6. Plan ahead: Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. Ask for support for party prep and cleanup.
7. Setting Limits: Saying yes when you want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. If you can’t participate in a project or activity, try and be clear about which ones you can say no to and take that time for other activities like rest and self -care.
8. Keep healthy habits:
- Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets or drinks.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Incorporate regular physical activity into each day as it helps with both physical and emotional wellbeing.
9. Take a breather: Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slows your breathing and restores inner calm.
10. Seek professional help if you need it: Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, seek help from a professional.
I hope that this helps make the holidays more enjoyable for you and yours. Happy Holidays!
By Dr. Kristin Heins
Heather Rhodes wrote a useful article on her website “Gardening Know How” that I thought would be worth sharing. It contained a few great recipes to allow you to make natural pesticides for plants that may be under attack by bugs this summer. Organic garden pest control is a popular topic since as consumers we are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of exposing ourselves and the earth to the least toxic materials possible. Natural home pesticides are not only easy to make, they are cheaper and safer than many products you can buy on store shelves. Remember that there are benefits to many of the little critters in your garden and you always want to be sure the damage a bug may be causing is worth using the pesticide for.
Rhoades points out in her article that garden pests are repelled or killed by a surprising number of safe and natural products. Here are a few natural insect repellent recipes she includes on her site:
Garden Pest Control Recipe #1
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon dish soap (Note: do not use a dish soap that contains bleach)
2 tablespoons mineral or vegetable oil
2 cups water
- Peel the garlic cloves and puree the cloves along with the oil and water. Allow to sit over night and then strain the mixture. Add the soap and mix thoroughly. Pour into a spray bottle and use on pest infected plants.
Organic Garden Pest Control Recipe #2
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon dish soap or Murphy Oil (Note: do not use a dish soap that contains bleach)
2 quart of water
- Combine ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Use this organic bug spray on your affected plants.
BEFORE USING ANY HOMEMADE MIX: It should be noted that anytime you use a home mix, you should always test it out on a small portion of the plant first to make sure that it will not harm the plant. Also, avoid using any bleach-based soaps or detergents on plants since this can be harmful to them. In addition, it is important that a home mixture never be applied to any plant on a hot or bright sunny day, as this will quickly lead to burning of the plant.
If you are tired of the same old ingredients in your smoothies each morning, here are 10 unusual ingredients offering many health benefits as well as interesting flavours:
- Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper adds a real kick to your smoothie and works best in water or coconut water based recipes. You can also use it with green juices and cucumber smoothies. Cayenne actually has many health benefits including a boost to your circulation and metabolism as well as aiding in digestion.
- Goji Berries: Goji berries hit the news as the new antioxidant to add to your diet. They provide amino acids as well as a lot of flavour. They go well with berry smoothies but can be added to just about any recipe.
- Ginger: Ginger is delicious but also aids in calming tummies as well as boosting your immune system. You can add a nice chunk of fresh ginger to just about any smoothie and freeze it or keep it in the fridge for when you need it. Ginger has also been known to be an effective anti-inflammatory and can assist with headaches and migraines as well as nausea.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3, vitamins and minerals, but more importantly they help keep you hydrated. They have to be soaked overnight and when added to juice smoothies they add a lovely silky texture.
- Bee Pollen: Bee pollen has many health benefits especially for healthy skin. It can aid in fighting acne, age spots and even allergies. If you are an exercise fanatic bee pollen can also aid in building muscles as well as increasing oxygen rich blood cells. Some people may not be too keen on the chalkiness as well as the price.
- Magnesium Powder: If you want to add a little invigoration to your smoothies magnesium powder will do the trick. Magnesium powder adds a little fizzy fun to any smoothie and also comes in a number of flavours. It also provides a vital nutrient that you are probably sadly lacking.
- Pomegranate Juice: Pomegranate will add a nice tang while providing antioxidants and fighting bad cholesterol.
- Kombucha: This is actually a fermented tea and can also add a fizziness to smoothies. Kombucha comes in a number of flavours and is packed with antioxidants and tummy friendly probiotics.
- Silken Tofu: Tofu is practically tasteless yet adds a nice velvety smoothness to your smoothies. You also can benefit from the fact that it keeps you feeling full longer and has tons of calcium.
- Flaxseed: You may already be using flaxseed as it is well-known for its omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed must be ground to reap its benefits making it easy to add to smoothies.
You can experiment with any of these ingredients until you find the right taste and texture and add a whole new line of smoothies to your morning menu.
The connection between how you carry yourself and how you feel
We’re always advocating for good posture –whether sitting, standing, and sleeping. Posture is so important for a variety of health reasons that we’ve mentioned here on the blog before. You’ll likely recall that bad posture can result in chronic pain, poor circulation, headaches, and damage to your spine.
But what about your mood? Many studies suggest that everything from our body language, to our carriage, to our posture can have a direct impact on how we feel –not just physically but emotionally. Here are some of the ways in which the positioning and use of your body can affect your mood or mind.
Feel more energized: When we optimize our posture, it helps us to feel more alert and awake. When you slouch, slump or recline, your body may relax but also understand it’s time to rest or shut down. When you consciously sit up straighter and hold your head up, you’re sending a signal within yourself that it’s time to be alert and productive. Certain postures also allow for freer, faster movement which can get more of your muscles working, elevate your heart rate and help you feel a sustained energy. Think of slumping down a hall with your head down, versus striding with a straight back and eyes forward. The second posture allows for much more efficient and energized movement- and much happier muscles and spines!
Feel happier: Studies also show that people may feel less depressed when their body language conveys traits like enthusiasm, joy, and energy. In addition to the psychological connection that may exist between how we present our bodies and how we feel, there are obvious physical reasons why good posture may keep your mood elevated. Optimized movements and positioning can reduce stress to your body like muscle pain, strain in your joints, or headaches. Eliminating those physical symptoms can help to prevent irritability and roadblocks to productivity that result from discomfort. Just think about how difficult it is to concentrate and sit still when you have a sore back. In this way practicing good posture can help keep you feeling comfortable, capable and calm.
Feel more confident: Another study had subjects place bets while sitting in two different postures. Those in a more open, expansive posture took more risks, while those who kept their limbs tight and body closed off were more conservative. As these studies remind us, we instinctively position our bodies to reflect our mood and mindset. Amy Cuddy’s incredible TED talk discusses the connection between our body language and behaviour in detail, suggesting that we can manipulate our body language to reflect (and help achieve) our desired mental state. We highly recommend you check out her compelling talk.
When we consider argument’s like Cuddy’s, we start to see that slumping, slouching, and closing our bodies off is doing twofold damage- not just to our chiropractic health and wellbeing, but also to our confidence, happiness, and success.
Now if that isn’t a reason to stand a little straighter and walk a little taller, I don’t know what is!